After 5 weeks of box walking, I finally got back in the plate at Kingston Blount. What turned out to be in my favour was Garthorpe getting abandoned and instead of riding Dean's Road in the men's open, I got shuffled onto the mighty Al Shahir. I’d been lucky enough to go to Oaksey house every day for 2 weeks so I was feeling stronger and fitter than ever for my return. We bounced out in front and went a lovely even gallop the whole way, quickening up a tad over the last 3 fences but I didn’t have to move really. The old boy was in a great rhythm and turning in he’d killed off the whole field and popped the last nicely to win hard held in what turned out to be the fastest time of the day! An incredible way to come back, thanks so much G&T racing!
Rolling onto the next day I’d somehow managed to pick up 6 rides at my beloved Larkhill, thinking what a hard shift this is going to be after a 5 week holiday!
I rode Rien Du Tote in the conditions race first which was a spare off Martin ‘fly’ McIntyre. He wasn’t feeling quite like his old self and pulled up going away from home...oh well there’s another day for him. Next up was the promising Far From Over for Maurice Linehan. A lovely looking son of Valirann that we had high hopes for in division one of the maiden. Bounced out handy, jumped and travelled like a dream, and coming to the last ditch we had them all at it. However, he ended up gawking at the ditch, guessed and made a right hash of it but soon blasted back to them, winging the last two fences to win nicely. Boom another one in for the weekend!
Straight into division 2 of the maiden and I had Kauto No Risk for Jo Priest. He’d had a couple of runs in Ireland and been sourced by Jeremiah McGrath for owner John Hargreaves. Off his form in Ireland he had a great chance, but this is Larkhill and anything can happen! We jumped off upsides in front and made a whopper of a mistake at the first. Felt like I went underneath him and came back up the other side but we managed to keep the partnership intact. I sent him on down the dip as no one really wanted to go on and I couldn’t see us winning if it turned into a sprint. He never saw another horse and won pulling away impressively. Double bubble!
Had a bit of a whoopsie on Book Of Intrigue; he didn’t play ball at all and refused to race.
Onto the last two races, both being bumpers. Lisnasallagh Ruby ran well to finish 3rd, probably needed the run and the big baby of Stuart Morris’s, OnTheRunAgain, came 4th looking much more promising than his previous effort.
Tuesday came around and poor Jack Savage wasn’t well enough to ride Elmdale at Leicester later that day so I got a very last minute call up to ride him. He’s the safest jumper in the world but wow is he slow! We ended up finishing 3rd but we literally fell out the back of the TV turning in and stayed on up the hill to do a bit of ‘nicking’.
Pretty successful comeback so far but it all went wrong the following weekend. I went all the way up to Brocklesby to ride two for Stuart Morris and managed to pull both of those up. The following day I drove across to Bangor point-to-point to finish 5th on James Ridley’s McTavish in the bumper, then fell in the maiden on Henry Oliver’s Gentle Frank. Not great when you have four rides and the only one you get around on is the flat race!
Nevertheless I was still in good spirits, one more weekend until Cheltenham is all I could think! Stuart Morris is the Chairman at Guilsborough PtP and being his local track, decided to take five there for me to ride. We started the day with a lovely new recruit in Champagne Glory. He’d run plenty in Ireland and looks like a proper chaser so I was itching to get aboard. He was a tad fresh when I got on him in the paddock but nothing like Tom McClory's mount which rather quickly ejected him as soon as he hit the saddle! Jumping off handy he took a nice grip but was by no means running away and jumped like a buck, right up until the last ditch where he jumped a little too well and couldn’t get the landing out quick enough and slithered over. Annoying but I was delighted in a way because if he’d have done it at the fence before I’d have been in a spot of bother as I saw what Sam Davies-Thomas’s dog had left on the landing side of that one!
Classic Ruler ran in the second maiden and ran a promising race pulling up halfway down the back on the final circuit. He just needs better ground and some more time.
Good old Bingo Star in the mixed open next and even though he hated the sticky going, we looked like we could be challenging going to the second last, but then got tired and managed to drop back to 3rd by the line. By this point I’m thinking I’m in for another shocker of a weekend especially as the next one Neumond really didn’t play ball and pulled up with 6 to jump!
So final race of the day, Stuart’s probably in the lorry writing out my P45 and dear old Volnay de Thaix comes along. After about 2 years off the track and a list of problems as long as my arm Stuart had managed to get him back on the track with all the cotton wool removed. Jumping the first we were a bit slow but soon warmed up, especially at the third fence where we miraculously managed to dodge Jemma Justice and her bridle as they took a nasty tumble. Coming to the last ditch Gina started to take over and went a couple of lengths clear and by the home bend with three to jump I thought I was booked for 3rd. That was until the old boys class kicked in; 13yrs young he winged the third last and I literally gave him a tap down the shoulder and he was gone. Gina said afterwards she thought she had everyone beat until 2 out when we came flying past like a scolded cat! Incredible effort from Stuart and the team. He is some animal and as the old saying goes class is permanent. Delighted to finally get a winner in the very familiar colours of Judy Wilson!
Right we’re back up on time now it’s Monday. I managed to get done early and school three horses around Guilsborough this morning. The last one was a nice young filly for G&T racing. It was all a bit fancy as there was around ten of us schooling with a camera crew and Derek O’Connor had come to have a go on one! Was such good fun and even better to go around the PtP upsides Jack Andrews. Shame it doesn’t happen much now he’s pro!
Roll on Cheltenham! I haven’t got any rides on Tuesday but I have Rocco for ‘the Guvenor’ Nigel on Thursday who won the Badger Ales Chase earlier in the season and the Prolific Fumet D’oudairies who should have a great chance, especially the form he’s in at home!